The Byzness, 11/10/2020

The Byzness, 11th October 2020




Hagia Sophia Public Forum Zoom Webinar (Stanford University). Part 2: Friday 16 October, 12-1:30 pm (PST)/ 8-9:30 pm (BST)

Featuring Patricia Blessing, Princeton University; Ali Yaycioglu, Stanford University; Christina Maranci, Tufts University; Anna Bigelow, Stanford University; Ece Temelkuran, Political commentator, journalist, and writer

Hagia Sophia is a masterpiece of world architecture, having served many different functions throughout its 1500 years of history: built as the cathedral of Constantinople in 532-537, then converted into a mosque 1453 when the city fell to the Ottoman Turks, and then transformed into a museum in 1934 by the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The secularization emphasized the universal, historical value of the monument over the more divisive memory of the Byzantine empire and its Ottoman conquest. All this abruptly changed when on July 10, 2020 Turkey’s highest administrative court revoked the 1934 decree, leading to the reconversion of Hagia Sophia from a museum back to a mosque and mandated a switch of its jurisdiction from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to the Directorate of Religious Foundations. Why this reversal, why a mosque, why now, for whom is this gesture intended? How does this action reshape the stewardship of the monument and Turkey’s image?

The Hagia Sophia Public Forum at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford has invited a core group of scholars and a political commentator and journalist to address these questions and lead the discussion about the future of this great monument. Two consecutive sessions will address the implications of the reconversion on the survival of a multi-faith Turkey. The first session will present the Byzantine history of the building, the process of its museumification underwritten by significant American private donations, and the current conservation projects. The second will focus on the Ottoman significance, its role in the formation of the modern Turkish Republic, and the contemporary divisive politics. Each speaker will give 12-minute presentations, followed by discussion among the panelists and a public Q&A session. 

Co-organized by Patrick R. Crowley, Associate Curator of European Art at Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts and Dr. Bissera V. Pentcheva, Professor of Art & Art History at Stanford University

Byzantine Worlds Seminar, University of Cambridge, Michaelmas 2020

The Byzantine Worlds Seminar in Cambridge looks beyond the territory of Byzantium to provide a venue for exploring the material and intellectual entanglements between the medieval worlds of the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. We host fortnightly seminars presenting the research of speakers from a variety of disciplines from within and outside of Cambridge.

Due to COVID restrictions, we will be holding our seminars online in the coming term. As such, we are hosting speakers from around the world and would like to invite participants from other universities to attend the seminars and contribute to our discussions.

Additionally, from October 2020 we would like to invite researchers working outside Cambridge to join our Classical Armenian reading group, to help build connections between the (relatively few) specialists working in this language across institutions. Please contact Stephanie Forrest for details.

Please see the attached poster for this term’s events and sign-up details. For details about future events please follow us on Twitter or Facebook:

Warsaw Late Antique Seminar

Ewa Wipszycka’s Late Antique Seminar at the University of Warsaw is restarting on Zoom. We are beginning with Robert Wiśniewski’s paper Counting presbyters in late antique Rome, on Thursday, 15 October. The full programme for the winter semester can be found on the seminar’s website.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 835 0128 4547

Passcode: 791010

Online Ancient Greek, Latin, Biblical Hebrew and Old Slavonic Extensive Courses for 2020-2021

The Dan Slusanschi School for Classical and Oriental Languages is now accepting applications for our 2020-2021 remote study courses. This autumn we have once again expanded our offered course selection to include a Beginners Level Ancient Hebrew course alongside Ancient Greek, Latin and Old Slavonic. All courses will be held once a week via a social media platform for a total of twenty courses at two hours a week. Course fee: 150 Euros. Registration deadline: October 16, 2020. For more information and to register, visit

Coptic Magical Papyri: Kyprianos Database of Ancient Ritual Texts and Objects Launch

The Coptic Magical Papyri team of the Chair of Egyptology at the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg is very pleased to announce that the Kyprianos Database of Ancient Ritual Texts and Objects is now online. 

In this first stage, data on 677 manuscripts and 11 texts written in Coptic and Greek have been made available. This includes manuscript information on all published (and over 150 unpublished) manuscripts containing Coptic magical texts, as well as most of the Greek and Demotic magical papyri from the major collection known as the PGM (Papyri Graecae Magicae).

Regular additions to the published manuscripts and texts will be uploaded, as well as information on magical archives, and copies of drawings from the magical texts. Future updates will provide information on all of the published Greek magical manuscripts from Egypt, as well as begin to add older magical papyri from Egypt, magical texts from outside Egypt written on lead tablets and other material, and add other genres of texts – Christian liturgical papyri, as well as medical, alchemical, and astrological texts. 

More information on the structure and functionality of the database is to be found here.

An online seminar to present the database will be announced in the next few weeks. 

The database is still in its early stages, so feedback concerning any problems, corrections, or ideas that you may have is welcome. 

Updates will be announced on the Coptic Magical Papyri project website, where blog posts and podcasts focused on various topics related to the cultural context studied within the project are also regularly published.

‘Rethinking Byzantine Masculinities: Gender, Sexuality, Emotions, Devotion’. Zoom event, 30 October 2020

For the past five decades, Byzantinists have explored gender and sexuality. More recent work has turned to gendered emotions and religious devotion. While much of this research has its origin in women’s history, there has been an increasing interest in men, including monks and eunuchs, and in the articulations and performances of masculinity. 

This conversation brings together scholars across the globe who have actively promoted this research to reflect on their work and its evolving academic and nonacademic contexts.

Organizers: Claudia Rapp (University of Vienna and Austrian Academy of Sciences) and Derek Krueger (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)


Derek Krueger is the Joe Rosenthal Excellence Professor of Religious Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He serves as chair of the United States National Committee for Byzantine Studies (2016–2021) and as a senior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks (2015–2021). His current project is entitled “Monastic Desires: Homoeroticism in Byzantine Ascetic Literature.”

Mark Masterson is senior lecturer of classics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His major research interest is same-sex desire between men in classical antiquity and medieval Byzantium. His Between Byzantine Men: Desire, Brotherhood, and Male Culture in the Medieval Empire is forthcoming from Routledge.

Claudia Rapp is professor of Byzantine studies at the University of Vienna, director of the Division of Byzantine Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and scholarly director of the Sinai Palimpsests Project. She serves as president of the Austrian Association for Byzantine Studies and as a senior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks (2019–2021). Her research and publications (including Brother-Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium: Monks, Laymen, and Christian Ritual) focus on social and cultural history, often from the angle of religious history and manuscript studies.

Shaun Tougher is professor of Late Roman and Byzantine history in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University. He works especially on Constantinian and Macedonian dynastic history and on eunuchs. His Roman Castrati: Eunuchs in the Roman Empire is forthcoming this autumn.

‘People and Power in Byzantium’. Zoom event, 5-6 November 2020

Bringing together specialists who investigate the formation of groups based on shared purpose, this colloquium raises important issues of scope regarding the methodology and interpretive models for the study of Byzantine society.

Research on the social and economic history of Byzantium has tended to focus on the upper levels of society, where the evidence is abundant and relatively easily accessible. It has traditionally been dominated by attention to the large structures of church and state, represented through the key figures of patriarch and emperor, and how they implemented their economic and ideological interests. This has resulted in a top-down view of Byzantine society. In recent years, however, greater attention has been paid to the study of group formation, especially with a view to vertical mobility through patronage networks. This colloquium aims to foreground these recent advances in scholarship.

The colloquium brings together eight specialists who investigate the formation of groups based on shared purpose, whether social, economic, or religious. Of particular interest is the interplay between external pressures and internal motivation in the perception and representation of groups, on the one hand, and in the formation of groups and networks, on the other. This often involves searching out previously unknown or underappreciated sources, or subjecting better-known sources to new analytical questions.

By elucidating these phenomena in different periods of Byzantine history and in different geographical and social settings, this colloquium raises important issues of scope regarding the methodology and interpretive models for the study of Byzantine society.

Colloquiarch: Claudia Rapp, University of Vienna



Dumbarton Oaks Fellowships and Grants in the Humanities. 2021-2022
Apply Now 

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an institute in Washington, D.C., administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. It supports research and learning internationally in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies.


Fellowships are awarded to Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian scholars on the basis of demonstrated scholarly ability and preparation of the candidate, including knowledge of the requisite languages, interest and value of the study or project, and the project’s relevance to the resources of Dumbarton Oaks. We place great value on the collegial engagement of fellows with one another and with the staff.

Applications and instructions are available online.

Fellowships are awarded to scholars who hold a PhD or appropriate final degree at the time of application, or who have established themselves in their field, and wish to pursue their own research. Application deadline: November 1

Junior Fellowships are awarded to degree candidates who at the time of application have fulfilled all preliminary requirements for a PhD or appropriate final degree, and plan to work on a dissertation or final project while at Dumbarton Oaks, under the direction of a faculty member from their own university.
Application deadline: November 1

Mellon Fellowships in Urban Landscape Studies are for cross-disciplinary scholars in urban landscape studies (PhD or MLA preference), and History Teaching Fellowships are for current faculty members in universities/other secondary educational institutions.
Application deadline: December 1


Project Grants support scholarly projects by applicants holding a PhD or the equivalent. Support is generally for archaeological research, preservation of historic gardens, and the recovery, recording, and analysis of materials that would otherwise be lost.
Application deadline: November 1


The nominating committee of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America invites nominations and self-nominations to its Board for terms beginning this October 2020 at the virtual BSC.  As per our by-laws, the nominating committee, formed by the four outgoing members, seeks nominees who represent a range of disciplines within the field of Byzantine studies broadly defined, and reflect geographic representation. All ranks are welcome and nominees may hold any type of position, at any type of institution, or nominees may work independently. If elected at the 2020 meeting, new board members will serve until the 2024 meeting, joining the twelve remaining members to create a body of sixteen total board members. 

Board members attend the annual board meeting held during the Byzantine Studies Conference and serve, as needed, as chairs of panels, panelists in professional development workshops, and lead ad hoc committees as appointed by the Board.  Serving as a member of the Board not only provides an important service to our organization, it is also a great way to come to know colleagues from other parts of the country and in different disciplines. We have found the experience very rewarding. 

At this time we are also taking nominations and self-nominations for the Programming Committee for BSC 2021 in Cleveland. If you are interested in serving on the Programing Committee, please let us know.

Please send your nominations (or any questions you may have) to Galina Tirnanic ( Include the name, rank, institution and discipline, and please confirm that the person you are nominating has agreed to serve if elected.

Research Training Group 2304 “Byzantium and the Euro-Mediterranean Cultures of War. Exchange, Differentiation and Reception”

Wars both internal and external exert a large impact on the development of societies. The Byzantine Empire has always been in constant exchange and conflict with its neighbours and rivals due to its geographic position. Out of this arose a wide range of violent interactions with the Latin, Slavic and Islamic worlds, in addition to, as a consequence, manifold interrelationships between the respective martial cultures, which we define as the norms, interpretations, attributions of meaning and reflections related to war as well as its forms and practises. The aim of this Research Training Group is to analyse Euro-Mediterranean cultures of war and the importance of Byzantium for them in a transcultural perspective for the first time. The RTG is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for 4,5 years in a first funding period (01.10.2018 – 31.03.2023).

Starting with the two overriding fields of study of “expressional forms” and “interpretative concepts”, these reciprocal processes of exchange, of distinction or also of reception will be analysed by means of four concrete subject areas: 1) strategies of justification and legitimisation; 2) conceptualisations of persons and groups; 3) rituals and cultic practises; 4) knowledge and infrastructure. The diachronic scope extends from the Roman Imperial Period, whose inclusion is indispensable for the understanding of Byzantine cultures of war, until the Early Modern Period, when the Byzantine heritage, especially in Eastern Europe, was still very vibrant. Within this interdisciplinary-orientated Research Training Group textual and visual sources, archaeological objects, visual sources, music as well as other media will be investigated in equal measure and brought in connection with one another, in order to grasp mentality and materiality and the related semantics of martial cultures. Based on this clearly-defined thematic complex, the immanent significance of Byzantium for the culture and history of the Euro-Mediterranean area will be explored in a thorough and systematic manner for the very first time.

The qualification programme and supervision strategy are construed according to the individual needs of the Ph.D. candidates, whereby there are not only included methodological, theoretical and thematic training and activities aimed at networking and internationalisation, but also museum research practice and collection-related work. In this regard Mainz provides an ideal location, not only because of the subject variety of the Johannes Gutenberg University and the structures provided by it for research and advanced training (including the Research Unit Historical Cultural Sciences), but also through the involvement of the Roman-German Central Museum as well as the Leibniz Institute for European History. In the field of interdisciplinary scholarship on Byzantium the aforementioned partners have long cooperated via the Leibniz-ScienceCampus “Byzantium between Orient and Occident”, thus providing an inspirational and international environment for junior scholars.

CRAC 12-month postdoctoral fellowships in ancient studies. Deadline: 10 November 2020

The Rector of the University of Warsaw invites applications for the position of two postdoctoral researchers under the Excellence Initiative – Research University Programme. The selected candidates will run their projects at the Centre for Research on Ancient Civilizations (CRAC) which brings together historians, classicists, archaeologists, orientalists, and Roman jurists from the University of Warsaw

More information at the following link:

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